Pakistani Okra with Flatbread

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 to 40 minutes

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This dish works even if you’re missing some ingredients. You can even substitute the main ingredient, okra, with squash or eggplant!




1 lb fresh okra
2 onions
3 medium tomatoes
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh garlic
½ tsp nigella seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 lemon
5 small curry leaves
2-3 stems cilantro
3-5 mint leaves
2 green chilies
canola oil



2 cups whole wheat flour
1 to 1½ cups water



1. Carefully wash the okra. Cut and remove both ends of each piece. Slice each pod evenly into ¼ inch pieces.


2. Thinly slice the onions. Mince ginger and garlic, and chop tomatoes into ½ inch cubes. 

3. Heat canola oil in a pan and sauté the onions. When onions begin sizzling and become slightly transparent, add the ginger, garlic, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and red chili powder.

4. Immediately add the okra, then the tomatoes, stirring to combine. Cover. After a few minutes, add salt, pepper, and lemon juice. 

5. Thinly slice the green chili lengthwise. Add to the pan. Salt to taste. 

6. When the okra is tender and aromatic, remove from heat and set aside.


1. Gradually add ½ cup of water at a time to whole wheat flour and knead. Separate dough into 6 balls. 

2. Flour your work surface. Flatten each ball with your fingers, then with a rolling pin, roll into large flat circles, about 1/16th inches thick.

3. Heat pan on high. Place roti one at a time into hot pan. Cook on both sides, then switch to toasting directly over the open flame. Fully cooked roti are not doughy, but soft on the inside and crisp on the outside.

Recipe by Ruby & Waqas Jawaid

“Grown first in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the highlands of Sudan, okra traveled to India long before it made its way to the Americas as part of the transatlantic slave trade. Slaves, who had been brought to America from various regions of Africa and spoke different languages, cultivated community around this food which reminded them of home and of a time when they were free. 

For my Pakistani grandmother, okra was a reminder of her former bucolic childhood in Aligarh, India, before the violence and migration of 1947. In the ’90s and early 2000s, okra was a go-to dish for my mother who worked as a school teacher. Every day she would drive all five of her children back from school in the Karachi heat, then rush to the kitchen and have lunch ready for us within 30-minutes. Years later, okra was one of the first dishes we served at Ruby’s Kitchen. In the midst of a pandemic, I am reminded that this dish is a great staple during times of food scarcity. It works even if you’re missing the main ingredient—just substitute with eggplant or squash!”

RUBY JAWAID is a special education teacher, a volunteer for New York Cares, and a loving mom whose parents immigrated to Karachi, Pakistan, from Aligarh, India, during the partition of 1947.  When her parents passed in 2018, she created a handmade recipe book to preserve her mother’s precious recipes. WAQAS JAWAID is a Pakstani American architect and a partner at Isometric, a graphic and exhibition design studio committed to promoting inclusion, equality, and progress in visual culture and the built environment. In 2019, Ruby and her son Waqas co-founded Ruby’s Kitchen, a once-a-month Pakistani tasting menu brunch in Brooklyn, NYC.

May 10, 2020. Illustration by Thu Tran.

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